Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Staying and going

The familiar feeling of soft melancholy when visitors are about to leave is mitigated by the fact they have actually stayed with us for them to be able to leave!

Our Bill’s “sweet sorrow” does give an idea of the mixed emotions that a visit from friends that you have not seen for some time gives. They stay for such a short time; you get used to them again after a long absence and then they are gone.

Still, it is far more positive than negative and, as I keep telling myself the UK is only a couple of hours away.

Talking of friends I have looked at the website which gives illustrations of all the paintings in the exhibition of Ceri’s new work which is at I was delighted to hear from Dianne that a couple of charcoal drawings have sold already and one or two of the tempera paintings too and this is before the Private View on the 21st of August. I am sure (I know!) that there is nothing more comforting to an artist than a scattering of red dots around a gallery on opening night!

When I bought a Ceri painting for my parents (the story of which present I will not go through again, but take it from me it was a stressful experience!) they were absolutely delighted with it and I can remember my father saying, “You must tell Ceri that if he ever needs the painting for an exhibition we are quite prepared to lend it.” At the time (oh, so long ago) that my father said that it was a sort of wistful aspiration, but as Ceri produces more and more work of exceptional quality a retrospective cannot be far away! And, like my father, I am quite prepared to loan the large charcoal which is opposite me as I type to any Ceri exhibition as long as the catalogue says “From a private collection in Castelldefels, Barcelona.”

That is the sort of accolade that we poor white middle class poseurs dream of. A previous fantasy was realized some time ago in Wales when through greed or circumstances I went to two exceptional restaurants in one day and in both I was greeted by name by each maĆ®tre d’ – I almost sang the nunc dimitis!

We have now all been to the beach and all of us with the exception of Paul Squared and swum. The definition of swimming in this instance is that the whole of the body including the head must be submerged for at least some of the time. Once again the intrusive nature of sand constantly makes you think of the more civilized surroundings of the pool and the availability of proper toilets which describes perfectly the surroundings and offices in the house! The ‘romance’ of beach and sand sometimes blinds us to the realities of the gritty experience that ‘going to the beach can be’ – though I have to say that the lesson is never really learned and each trip to the side of the sea is filled with expectation and the brain is lulled to soporific by the heat of the sun. In Spain at least!

Were I Sherlock Holmes, I wouldn’t have gone to the beach to lie around doing nothing, but if the Great Man had been persuaded by Doctor Watson to take it easy for a bit then I think that Holmes would have left the beach determined to write ‘a short monograph’ on the subject of beach towels.

I am often startled to see what towel each person has decided to lie upon. Sometimes the difference between the subject matter and the human body lying on it is so startling that one suspects an elaborate joke of some sort.

I have seen raddled hags (of both sexes) lying on beach towels depicting nubile youths in a state of undress that makes the conjunction of bodies something of a grotesque charade. That may sound ageist, but there are limits and there is such a thing as decency and taste.

I have seen grandmothers lying on garish towels that seem to shimmer on the sand, and not because of the heat. Children lying on graphic depictions of carnage (admittedly in cartoon form, but nonetheless!) that ought to give the poor things nightmares for life.

The souvenir-type towel is almost the saddest. These have names of exclusive resorts emblazoned across them and they remind me of the ‘my other car is a Porsche’ bumper stickers. Sad and vulgar!

There are other aspirational towels with what used to be high end designer names but which now merely show the sad nature of the sun worshipper.

Colours clash with a harshness that shows that many of the so called West would be buying the sort of African fabrics which only look right in the appropriate continent.

I once saw a man who looked like one of those cartoon figures into whose faces hunks on the beach were always kicking sand, lying on a towel which showed the full length, full size figure of a bodybuilder! The motivations behind that one, added to the fact that he was doing it in full view of the public leave one breathless with horror!

Why do people whose taste one knows and admires suddenly throw caution to the wind and purchase some woven example of crazy tints which looks as though it was produced by colour blind Fauves with a dash of the Vorticists thrown in? One suspects that it is a variant of ‘going native’ which ends when the suspect material is rolled up and placed inside the beach bag for the return trip home!

There is so much more to say on the subject, I feel that I have only worried free a stray thread, but it would be cheap of me to deny the originality of the thesis of some desperate PhD student in sociology to spoil his area of research and so I will rein in my enthusiasm and pigeon hole this subject until a particularly vibrant example of beach fabric takes my fancy.

When, by the way do people buy beach towels? The one you use is always one ‘you bought before’ at a time that you can`t quite remember. Another fruitful area of research I think!

Almost time for the Pauls to go home and the neurosis of Paul Squared to Be On Time (and I suspect a little extra time to drink in the heady atmosphere of an airport) has started to kick in.

We will be on time.
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